The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
Bring your flaming knives, kid. I bring forth this earth-shattering news: Michigan's going to have a male twirler next year. His name's Nathan Maygar and he's matriculating this fall after an intensive career with the Saline Twirlettes. I'm pretty sure he's the tall one in this picture.
Also, the male one. The Twirlettes' web page notes Maygar will be the first male twirler in a while; hopefully he goes on a retreat with the guy who shows up at homecoming every year with, like, knives and flaming batons and stuff. There he will be called "grasshopper" and learn the ancient secrets of entertaining homecoming crowds.
We used to win these? Wolverine Historian brings you the 1990 Ohio State game:
Gary Moeller, a center with his entire name written on his jersey, and what sounds like be Dick Vermeil doing color.
Okay, I don't get it. I just don't get why anyone thinks the new clock rules are going to signficantly affect the game. Here's Mark Richt:
"Seven years ago, I would have been thrilled about it," Richt said. "My ambition was to play as fast as we could possibly play and run the no-huddle and get to the line of scrimmage as fast as possible and get the ball snapped in a hurry and run as many plays as possible. We were not allowed to do that.
"In my opinion, the officials in this league were more deliberate than in any league I had been. The SEC, to me, was grinding it to a halt. Now, all of a sudden, you can play as fast as you want to play."
I've seen countless references to this; only Bret Bielema dismissed the clock rules as not particularly significant.
Why does anyone think the clock rules are going to be some radical change? Under the previous rule you had to wait until the referee blew his whistle and signaled the ball ready for play before you could snap the ball. Under the current rule... you have to wait until the referee blows his whistle and signals the ball ready for play before you can snap the ball. There is no difference in how fast you can get plays off. The only difference is that you might have 28 or 24 or 21 seconds when the play is whistled ready instead of 25. Am I crazy here?
Update: Ron Zook: ""And you better be ready to run plays. No doubt, offenses that play at a quicker pace will have an advantage." WTF?
Men overboard. Penn State's booted a couple players:
Two days after ESPN ran a stinging Outside The Lines feature highlighting the recent rash of off-field problems with the Penn State football program, some housecleaning has apparently begun in Happy Valley.
Sources close to the team report to FightOnState.com that during a squad meeting Tuesday, head coach Joe Paterno announced defensive tackles Chris Baker and Phillip Taylor had been dismissed earlier in the day. According to the sources, Paterno said the dismissals were permanent.
Baker was talented and prone to beating people up in mass melees -- the only player to get an assault conviction for the infamous posse incident -- and Taylor was a participant in Penn State's football's second mass beating spree. Both were part-time starters last year, but Penn State still returns Ollie Ogbu, Jared Odrick, and Abe Koroma at the position and should be fine. RUTS, now a part of Black Shoe Diaries, is peeved.
Diaries combover. Chitownblue gets more comments than any of my posts have picked up by questioning the "Rodriguez does more with less" meme, pointing out that West Virginia recruiting is at least on par with the rest of the Big East and maybe better:
None of this means that I believe the staff will be unsuccessful. What it DOES mean is that WVU wasn't doing "more with less" than the rest of the Big East - they were doing what they should have with more talent. Luckily, Michigan generally has excellent talent levels. If that is maintained - and it appears that's not a problem - then we should have continued success.
There is a listing of four-star recruits acquired by the various Big East teams: WVU has 16(?!) four-star or better players, comparable to Louisville and Pitt and significantly better than the rest of the conference.
I'm not sure I agree with Chitownblue's police work here. This was significantly higher than my tally when I tackled Rodriguez's WVU recruiting; I came up with 12 four star or better recruits, eight of those in the past two classes. Rodriguez obviously got no use from the 2008 class, and the only player from 2007 to see significant time was Noel Devine. The four guys from previous years all bombed out. Net effect: Rodriguez actually got to use one four-star or better player during his entire tenure at West Virginia. Also, West Virginia was a good Big East team even when Virginia Tech, Miami, and Boston College were around -- a commenter points out that the Big East's recruiting looks a bit less grim when those teams are considered.
WVU obviously had better talent than the rest of the conference at a couple of key positions named "wherever Pat White is" and "wherever Steve Slaton is," but the recruiting and NFL draft record doesn't indicate that WVU had better top-to-bottom talent. This was the Big East, so he wasn't exactly doing more with "less" but he was doing more with "about the same." At Michigan, he will have to do more with "more, except against Ohio State and maybe one other team a year." This is a situation I feel okay about.
Meanwhile: Blue Seoul has an excellent near-UFR of the infamous Pitt game, and Chrisgocomment points out the weirdness of the "Bryant Scholarship" Alabama has. (FTR: contains no flaming.) We should get a Bo-Mo-Llo scholarship going.
Okay, I did get two questions answered. One: I asked Illinois center Ryan McDonald about J Leman's American flag tie. Had he seen the picture? Yes. Does he just wear that thing? "Every time I see him with a tie it's in an American flag tie." But he apparently didn't wear it to the wedding. "If you're in a tux, you can't pull that off."
J Leman picture goes here.
The other: I did get my question about the number of tight ends on the roster off. Rodriguez responded "well, now that's not entirely true, we threw to Owen Schmitt quite a bit and sometimes he lined up at tight end," at which point I gave him an "aw, come on" kind of beaten-down puppy dog look and he went into a spiel about how at Michigan they have the sort of tight ends they've never had at West Virginia and how they're looking to use them. I asked further about what was the rationale for having them split into the slot when traditionally slot receivers in the spread are 5'8" electron guys.
Rodriguez: "You want to look for mismatches part of what we're experimenting with that with the tight ends. If they can prove to be a mismatch on the field we'll use them; if they can't, they won't."
This was not as revelatory as I hoped, but it wasn't about how he feels about leadership, man.
Clarification: The stuff about Michigan hating children by ducking out of Lamarr Woodley's golf this is a miscommunication and they'll be there next year.
Observation: Curtis Painter has an unbelievable amount of product in his hair.
Theme: Rich Rodriguez would like you to know he's not married to running 70% of the time. This came up at various times as people came in and out, most artfully asking if he was stupid enough to run Steven Threet 30 times a game but all polite like. Rodriguez: "We've been pigeonholed as a club that runs. We have to have enough flexibility to go a couple different ways. You see one spread and it's not like another spread. The spread you can go a lot of different ways."
Later, he was asked about recruiting and segued in to this bit: "We don't have to have Pat White. Pat's a special guy but you can get a guy who can move a little bit and be accurate, we'll go with that." There was a followup about that and Rodriguez made an interesting point: "We're practicing the same plays when Shawn King is the quarterback and Pat White, we just call them differently. In practice we don't focus on one or the other. In the game we were calling what's working."
Stonum. "Stonum is five months ahead of him because he got there five months ahead." Stonum's chances of playing are better because he enrolled early.
Zinger. Much was made about this "apostles" bit that Rodriguez has going on; at one point Rodriguez clarified the deal: "We've always had a group of leaders; we let the players pick. Sometimes it's as simple as picking pregame music. It's not like we're making major decisions. They're making suggestions."
Angelique Chengelis then got off a pretty good one: "there's only one Jesus Christ." Rodriguez, thankfully, did not claim that happiness for himself.
Thing that makes HULK SMASH: IF YOU START A QUESTION WITH "IT'S A CLICHE, BUT" DO NOT ASK THAT QUESTION.
This would be slightly interesting if I knew who Rodriguez was talking about: "He looks stronger. He's done a great job according to Mike and looks like he has as far as getting stronger across the board; he's got a terrific attitude."
Pick your favorite player. That's who he's talking about.
On recruiting: "We trust our own judgments... recruiting rankings are a little overblown but not always. Would I take a roster full of five star guys? I would, if they have the right attitude."
"I think we can go anywhere in the country. Our base areas: Michigan, surrounding states, also an emphasis in Florida. Fortunately for us we think we've got enough of a brand name to at least give us a shot. Some of it is system-oriented, but a lot of it is just the player and attitude all coaches want in athletes."
Observation: no one wants to talk to Purdue LB Anthony Heygood.
Boilerplate: "The thing i like about camp is that it's all football from morning to night. In the spring guys have classes and all that and they've got responsibilities and the like. We'll certainly know our guys better at the end of August. I will know our team a whole lot better after 30 days."
Minor HULK SMASH moment: At this point the Dis-paaatch guy actually asks the us against the world question, which is always "do you think the team is adopting an "us against the world" mentality?" Rodriguez says "no."
Weird: Players vote on captains before the last regular season game.
Opinion on something that's not that interesting. Rodriguez was asked about this movement towards national officiating crews instead of conference-affiliated ones: "National officiating crews are a good idea; just want the games to be consistently called. The attempt to go national is an attempt to be more consistent." He also said he hadn't noticed much of a difference between conferences in bowl games and such.
Joke about referees: "I used to yell at them a lot when I was younger, but then I figured out they aren't going to change the call so I stopped."
Carlos Brown gon' take some snaps, probably. Carlos Brown was brought up; Rodriguez dubbed him a "wildcard" because he missed so much of spring when he sliced his finger open. This led into a good question from someone who I couldn't identify: "how many guys will touch the ball at quarterback this year." Rodriguez repeated the question with an arched eyebrow, paused, and then exclaimed "good question! I set the over-under: 20"
Then he said this: "we've got to be creative, moreso now than we might have to in the future."
My take-home: hello, Wildcat.
Also, on Feagin: he has to "make his mark in the first two weeks" and will be "given everything he can handle mentally."
How do you feel about the Big Ten perception Ohio State blah? "If you want to change that perception, you've got to win."
Oops. The past few years there were a lot of schools visiting West Virginia, but not ones that he thought he'd play. Including... uh... Ohio State.
The last bit in this quote is reassuring for me, though: "There's no patents on schemes. We never give them everything. Like we never tell people why we call this play in a certain situation. They bring us stuff here, We try to get smarter every year, learn some things from people all the time."
Theme: The other side of "salty language." Talking points from Morgan Trent and Tim Jamison when asked about how Rodriguez was different from Carr. Trent: "he's a little more intense, a little more vocal. He wants it to be chaotic environment in practice so we're ready during the game." Jamison: "He brings a lot of energy, it's great for us. He's not going to pat you on the butt. He demands greatness of you. You need to get better every day. You need to get ready to compete."
Tim Jamison: "I don't think anyone else is going to leave. I think everyone else is ready, confident, and has brought into the program. We're just working out hard, watching TV, hearing about how bad Michigan is going to be. I'm not going to brag on what we're going to do, but we're excited to go into training camp."
Stock answer. Jamison on defending the spread better this year because Michigan has a spread: "As the year went on we got better at it but we can't help but get better at it this year."
What kind of football will people see out of Michigan? American football. Ha. Jamison: "You're going to see a team that's very conditioned, very physical, anxious. We're anxious to see what we're going to do as well."
Awww, Lloyd Carr. Jamison, laughing: "The Brown Jug is the only rivalry Carr broke down from start to finish. From the beginning to the end, every year."
They didn't boot me. I even got a nice shiny pass and everything. I didn't get off any questions to Rich Rodriguez, because god knows he's got to answer stuff about West Virginia and Justin Boren sixty thousand times, but I did ask Joe Paterno what he thought about an early signing period, mostly because the poor guy was about to ninja-kick the next guy who prefaced a question about his potential retirement in some way that implied he would never, ever ask aboout his potential retirement.
I took notes both on Rich Rodriguez's 15 minutes and the INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATING post-interview scrum afterwards.
Like this, only with dumb questions about West Virginia
ONLY SLIGHTLY STALE NEWS: Not that you expected any different, but Rodriguez confirmed that Slocum was off the team. Dispiritingly for would-be lionizers (guilty), he said that it was "academic and other reasons... he did not do the things he had to to remain on the team."
Also, someone wedged a question in about the academic status of the recruits and Rodriguez responded that everyone was good to go. I think this was already known, but confirmation can't hurt. Boubacar Cissoko was reputed to be the player at greatest risk.
Now, onto people asking about West Virginia and my increasing apoplexy.
RICH RODRIGUEZ is excited to be here. Great start. Hopes to meet some of y'all for the first time... little bit of drama for the last seven months he would like to clear up. Has great respect for players, coaches, and the league itself. He's excited to be here. He's been waiting all summer on his new "snake oil concoction" to provide him... uh. (Yeah, kinda wish he didn't say that. )
References the strength staff, getting guys into shape. Transition from a football standpoint is as seamless as he could have expected. Lot of young hungry players getting significant playing time. Pleased with the way the staff came together. Weird emphasis on "re-hired" instead of "retained"... maybe it's an anti-nepotism crusade. No one skates by on rep under Rodriguez, I guess. Thumbs up.
"Very young" on offense... lost some of the best players who've ever played offense at Michigan. One starter returning up front. Deeper on D, you know all this. Players embracing the challenges they've had. Has he said football yet? Don't think so. He just said "ball game" in a southern accent, so if he was going to he would have done it there.
Guys are buying in. End of opening statement
Columbus Dispatch asks about the drama over the seven months... was there one thing that rankled you? "After a while... it's like just stand in line." So many things that weren't true. The only one that really bothered was a question about family values -- they take the most pride in that. "There's no one who's going to have a closer, more familial bond than us."
USA Today lady asks about the lawsuit. Any regrets? He'll address it now so they don't have to address it for 13-14 years. He'd like to move on, in the past, disappointed in certain things. Still hewing to this "the truth will come out" stuff that I really wish he'd quit.
Is anyone going to ask about football? Screw this. I am. [note: I tried. I was going to ask "you have six tight ends on the roster and and offense that hasn't used the tight end in seven years. What do you do with all those guys?" but they didn't get around to me.]
USA Today references the Rosenberg article: "It's been said this embarrassing for the university and for you personally, how do you feel?" Blah. Etc. Rodriguez has already dismissed this USA Today lady has the gumption to follow up with another thrust. This is also batted aside in the same fashion anyone who's paid the slightest attention to Michigan in the last seven months can recite by heart.
Ooh, Daily Iowan asks about the S&C change. Diplomatic answer: "Any time there's a transition or a change, everyone wants to compare the difference; sometimes that's unfair. There's no one perfect way to do things. It's just a little different. Barwis is one of the best in the country, but I'm biased." "Pro players who didn't even know Mike now train with him diligently and bought in." "Our players have seen the change in their bodies."
Next question is about Pryor going elsewhere, transfer of "Ryan Mallette" and that's not a typo, that's how this guy said it. "Steve Threet has a lot of talent, Nick Sheridan did a great job, Justin Feagin... whenever you lose a recruit it's disappointing." One minute left. Not going to get a question off.
Oh MY GOD: Big Ten's bad rap on speed and athleticism question. "The perception is just that: perception. Great speed in our league." What a dillweed, last question was guaranteed to be answered with standard boilerplate.
No wait, there's one more question: Bucknuts.com asks about rivalry games and how he can turn around the Ohio State series. Is anyone going to ask anything that can possibly yield insight? Oooh zing: "I'm not the kind of coach who has a countdown to a particular game, just the next one." He immediately backs out of what looks like a Dantonio rip. "I've heard "just win the Ohio State game and we'll be happy." I don't believe that."
And one final one: what's Kevin Grady's status? Good job, GR Press guy. You get a ninja star. Suspended from the team, no longer working out with the team, still attending classes. He has to do certain things to get back on the team. There will be some playing time penalties, and he's on a strict watch.
POST INTERVIEW SCRUM TIME
Rodriguez has been surrounded and is being asked exclusively about WVU and lawsuit and snake oil and family values and Rodriguez is fending that stuff off, including highly skeptical questioning about the necessity of "salty" language from someone I can't see but is very probably a thousand years old. He does mention Slocum is off the team for academic and other reasons.
Walk-on program is building up. Everyone is qualified and through the clearinghouse. Barwis says players are really excited, gone from "how hard it is" to excited at his progress.
This bit's actually interesting: there's a handful of players they call "the apostles" who the players pick as their leaders for the class; Rodriguez meets with them regularly to communicate with them with other players. 20(!) guys, normally 10-12. Anyone can talk to Rodriguez but these guys are sort of quasi-captains and act as the voice of the player during regular meetings, the last one a BBQ at Rodriguez's house.
Thinks M outside the top 3 is "reality;" look at who we've lost." But you're waiting for it, aren't you? You know some sort of pithy statement abut how rankings are not important is coming. Rich Rodriguez is a coach. He has it in his blood. Here you go: "Last I checked where you ranked wasn't worth a first down."
Ignorant about the jersey number thing -- no #1 btw. "One thing we're not going to do is be fake." All the players who played for me 10 years or 15 years still come back. He knows most of these coaches already from "apparel contracts" and "retreats."
More image stuff. Rodriguez hauls out the "One guy left, 99 stayed" and then in the middle of another WVU question says, a little plaintively, "I just changed jobs." Then he's whisked away to do interviews for television, where he'll no doubt be asked all the same questions and die a little inside.
Meanwhile, I missed lunch.
Hopefully I'll get more interesting stuff tomorrow, when the players do table interviews. I hope to ask the Illinois guys about how awesome J Leman was.
Michigan went into this offseason with one open spot on the blueline after Kevin Quick bought a "Swedish Credit Card Inspector" t-shirt and Carl Hagelin fell for it. However, they'd signed two players to LOIs. Probable late first-round pick Brandon Burlon is definitely coming in. Greg Pateryn, however, was expected to cool his heels in the USHL one more year unless someone bolted.
Fargo Force Head Coach/General Manager Dean Blais tells WDAY 6 Sports that two of the players he was counting on this fall have chosen to play elsewhere. Garrett Clarke has opted to play with a Canadian Junior Hockey Team, and Greg Pateryn has chosen to skate for the University of Michigan. Pateryn has signed with the Wolverines and had expected to play a season in Fargo before joining Red Berenson's team, but because of a need at the U of M, is now projected to see playing time for Michigan.
Everyone envisioning a gaping hole on the top line can take a breath: this is not necessarily Max Pacioretty, the lone first-round pick who hadn't publicly stated he would return, signing with the Canadiens. In the accompanying video, Blais says Red called him up last week and told him one of his players didn't make it academically, so Pateryn was coming in.
But someone's gone. It's not necessarily a defenseman, since Chris Summers could slide up to forward. Let the speculation begin; watch for a CHL signing in the near future; I just hope it's not one of the freshmen.
Gone, gone, gone, whoahoaoahoah. Alex Mitchell and Jeremy Ciulla, previously mentioned as departees, were officially announced as such today. Also leaving the team are Antonio Bass and Chris McLaurin. Both of the latter will remain on medical scholarship. The only surprise there is McLaurin, who played sparingly as the third or fourth tight end a year ago and was seemingly passed by Martell Webb by year's end.
No mention of this George Morales kid supposedly offered as a long-snapper. You'd think the guy would send in his LOI at 12:01 AM if he had a legitimate offer. There's a theory kicking around that Michigan wanted to delay his signing in case everything fell perfectly and they needed him to grayshirt, but IIRC grayshirts usually sign anyway.
Rodriguez did mention Michigan would like to add somewhere between one and three guys to the class: obviously this refers to Demens, McGuffie, and Pryor.
This sounds a little grim on McGuffie: "When a kid confirms they are coming the night before and then don't come through it is tough, but it is understood in our profession." He did follow that up with a reference to his dogged recruitment of Noel Devine, the electric scatback from last year who took his decision to March 30th.
Update: Demens' LOI is in.
Two established sources indicate that both members of Michigan's 2007 right guard platoon will not be returning for fifth years due to medical issues. (Yes, medical issues beyond Mike Barwis.)
Though neither exactly shone in '07, losing both leaves Michigan's offensive line in a precarious position. Justin Boren and Steve Schilling return. Mark Ortmann is a good bet to start at one of the tackle spots. Past that it's all question marks; Michigan's inability to get more than two offensive linemen in the '07 recruiting class doesn't help.
Purely speculative, but based on buzz I would guess Michigan opens 2008 with a line like so:
|Left Tackle||Left Guard||Center||Right Guard||Right Tackle|
|Mark Ortmann, Jr*||Justin Boren, Jr||Dave Moosman, So*||Steve Schilling, So*||Perry Dorrestein, So*|
At this point looks like Michigan's 2008 offense will have zero senior starters.